Reflecting on many years working, thinking and writing on KM, the strongest meme for me remains knowledge ecology. Looking at knowledge as an ecology evokes powerful images, similarities and useful connections. Let's explore:
Today's knowledge may not be useful, applicable or recognised tomorrow. This is why it is so difficult to reconstruct past civilizations - we can find artifacts, restore buildings, speculate on social norms but we cannot retrace, thought forms, social norms, unwritten categories. Knowledge is 'local', social and always morphing. We build on yesterdays experience and explore to discover tomorrows 'truths'.
You cannot appreciate, picture, evaluate or quantify knowledge without understanding how things are connected, without a feel for the paths along which knowledge flows, without a 'picture' of trust, reciprocity, social capital and people to people relationships. Stocks alone do not tell the story, with data on patents or other IP you cannot determine the potential for future innovation, predict the impact of retirements or the disruption of a merger.
Emergence & self-organisation.
Knowledge emerges through conversation, it is hard to codify, capture and store unless there is a community that resurfaces, refines and creates distinctions, giving meaning, testing and weeding beliefs and thoughts. There is an autopoietic relationship between knower and the environment, each influencing the other.
Sustainability, adaptation, food and energy webs & chains, stasis, climax, niche, fitness,
Nardi & Day examine information ecologies in terms of co-evolution, keystone species, diversity and system flows. They convey many of the key tenets of knowledge ecology. John Seely Brown also addresses this subject noting the importance of sense-making and community.